We Must Assume Nothing

By NCQA on July 22, 2015 in Speaker Profiles

This blog is part of an ongoing series featuring spotlights on speakers at this year’s Quality Talks. Interested in attending? Register today.

Ignore the reflex. Ignore the inevitable draw of human nature. That’s the health care quality prescription from Sachin Jain, MD, Chief Medical Officer at CareMore Health System in Southern California.

QT-Speakers-3What is this irresistible reflex to which so many in health care succumb? Dr. Jain says it is the inclination to assume they know what patients want.

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“We must assume nothing,” he declared in a recent interview. That’s the central theme of the challenge he plans to make to his Quality Talks 2015 audience in November.

“There’s always this reflex to say ‘this is what patients want,’” he says. “Health care systems that assume they know anything about what patients want are usually destined to fail.”

Dr. Jain admits that the health care system considers the perspectives of patients more than in the past. He says organizations changing how they deliver care have made good-faith efforts to include the “patient perspective.” But, he says, that perspective is often limited to just a few individuals on a patient advisory council or particularly persistent patient advocates.

“It is a misstep to talk about patients as if they are all part of one monolith,” he explains. “The central opportunity in health care going forward will be to acknowledge the diversity of the patients we serve—and to meet them precisely where they are.”

Jain says we get where they are—when all health care workers—doctors, nurses, case managers, even health plan administrators and policy analysts—shed what they think they know.

“There is something beautiful about blowing up your assumptions,” Jain says. “It’s humbling to say. ‘I don’t know what my patients really want.’ It leads you to ask them. It leads you to listen more than you speak.”

It’s more than humbling. It pays dividends for patients—and providers. You’ll hear more about those dividends at Quality Talks 2015.

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